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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert B. Cialdini


Reciprocation, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity are the paths to understanding persuasion through automatic response, the weapons of influence, presented by Cialdini.

  1. Reciprocation: The free sample is an example. It was really interesting how one person provided a free sample of cheese and invited customers to slice their own portions. The sales were tremendous.
  2. Consistency and Commitment: It is desirable for individuals to appear to be consistent, as society simply dislikes inconsistent people as "confused," "irresponsible," and often "incapable." Anything in writing can really be powerful to influence future behavior. Further, if a commitment is made publicly, a person will be substantially more consistent with making the effort to remain committed.
  3. Social Proof: Catherine Genovese experienced a "long, loud, tortured, public" murder in NY City in March of 1964. Her murder was witnessed by 38 of her neighbors, as she would sometimes escape from her murderer, screaming for help, then the murderer would catch her again and stab her, and this happened several times. The whole event took place over half an hour. However, not one person, of all thirty-eight of them, notified the authorities. Then, one witness called, after Catherine Genovese was dead.
    • Why? Uncertainty. The bystanders thought someone else would call the police or try to do something. Everyone was thinking some one else would help, so no one provided help.
    • Lesson:
      • If you are uncertain, provide help. If you see a person being assaulted, having what appears to be breathing problems, provide aid to your fellow human. Do NOT wait for others to provide aid, even in group situations such as concert halls.
      • If you require aid, specifically point to someone and clearly and forcefully say something like, "YOU! In the blue jacket! I need help. Call an ambulance right away!"
  4. Liking: Simply, we are going to comply with people we like. However, do not be deceived by: (a) physical attractiveness, (b) similarity (oh, we seem alike, you are from where I grew up!), (c) compliments. The three above can influence us to make automatic, mindless decisions.
  5. Authority: I am really astonished, to be honest, how compliant people are to those in positions of authority or those that appear to be in positions of authority. I am not refering to respect but rather to complying to things that are just wrong. E.g., the Milgrim Study is discussed at great length, and I really enjoyed reading about it (again). That is, how an individual was complaint to a person who appeared to be in a position of authority in lab attire and holding a clip board to administer electric shocks to a person, even as the person begged for the shocks to be stopped.
  6. Scarcity:If something is rare or becoming even more rare, the value of it seems to increase. Therefore, words such as "limited availability" or "one time offer" or "exclusive" seem to influence people to make purchasing decisions.

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